The mission of the NRVT Steering Committee is to facilitate the design, development, construction and maintenance of a regionally significant, safe, multipurpose trail linking Norwalk, Wilton, Redding, Ridgefield, and Danbury. Ultimately the trail will reflect the needs and desires of these communities and will foster increased passive recreational opportunities, alternative transportation options, and a healthy lifestyle.
| In this Issue of News from the Trail |
We are on the cusp of an exciting milestone, our second round of public meetings, where we will unveil the proposed Norwalk River Valley Trail route for public input. This issue provides the details of these February meetings, along with our encouragement for you to attend. While we look ahead to these meetings and finalizing the route, we also take a moment in this issue to look back on the many NRVT activities that took up "our spare time" in 2011. We are grateful to our many supporters and are eagerly looking forward to continued progress in 2012.
The Norwalk River Valley Trail Steering Committee
Public Meetings in February to Focus on Specific Trail Options
The Norwalk River Valley Trail Steering Committee will hold a second series of public meetings in early February for the five towns through which the trail will pass. The public is invited to review and comment on prospective routes and key characteristics of the Trail at the meetings.The proposed 27 mile trail for cyclists, hikers, walkers and equestrians will go from Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk to Danbury, passing through Wilton, Ridgefield and Redding.
The first round of meetings, held in May 2011 and attended by 150 enthusiastic members of the public, successfully launched the Trail planning process. These sessions generated great awareness and energy, in addition to specific ideas and information relative to the needs of each of the five communities. Input from these sessions was used by the Trail's planning and design consultant, Alta Planning + Design, to develop a proposed route and possible options. Whereas last year's meetings were blue sky sessions exploring a full range of considerations, the February 2012 meetings will entail a focused, feet-on-the ground review of actual trail options. The work completed over the past year will be reviewed and the public will have the opportunity to identify the preferred trail route option.
Here are the specifics:
Dates, Times and Places
- Norwalk: Norwalk Public Library, Main Branch, 1 Belden Avenue, Norwalk, 06850-3303; Wednesday, February 8, 2012; 6:30 - 8:00 PM
- Danbury: Danbury City Hall, 155 Deer Hill Avenue, Danbury, CT 06810; Thursday, February 9, 2012; 7-8:30 PM
- Redding, Ridgefield, Wilton: The Gilbert & Bennett School, 49 New Street, Georgetown Ct, 06897; Thursday, February 16, 2012; 7-8:30PM
Please feel free to come up to a half hour early as the gallery of maps will be available to look over before the sessions. They will also be available on-line and we will share the link for this before the meetings.
This is an exciting moment in the NRVT's evolution. It's a great opportunity to learn firsthand what has been happening, have an impact on the Trail's route, and show continued support for this major undertaking. Please load the car with your family and friends, and come to the session for your town. If your schedule allows, check out the sessions for other towns as well. See you there!
- Discuss the Trail planning process and how the Trail recommendation was developed
- Go on a north-to-south "tour" of the entire Trail using slides and large-scale maps
- Use slides and maps to review the existing conditions along the proposed Trail and the options in each community. Routes that are most "trail ready" will be identified and key design challenges such as streams and steep slopes will be reviewed.
- Participate in interactive small group workshops to discuss the options and identify the preferred route and key trail characteristics such as amenities and trailheads
Looking Back on 2011
2011 was, dare we say, a busy, watershed year for the Norwalk River Valley Trail initiative. The Steering Committee transitioned from individuals from five towns along the Norwalk River who had a general vision of a multi-use trail along the corridor, to a cohesive steering committee of a newly-authorized 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, the 'Friends of the Norwalk River Valley Trail,' sharing a much more focused vision of the Trail. With the formation of the Friends of the NRVT we are now able to accept donations, and the Steering Committee and other supporters recently became Founding Members of the NRVT by making donations. We are also now set up to accept credit card donations through PayPal.
In May, we held community workshops in Norwalk, Wilton, Ridgefield, Redding, and Danbury to present our vision to the community-at-large and get their input on what they would like to see in a multi-use trail. Our consultant from the National Park Service, John Monroe, ably led the groups in translating wishes into action steps and notes on maps.
In June, we took that information to our newly-engaged routing study consultants, Alta Planning + Design. Members of the NRVT Steering Committee walked the various routes that the Trail could take along its way from Norwalk to Danbury. Since then, Alta has been working to refine this information into an optimal route for the Trail, which will be presented at the February public meetings referenced in the previous article. Their final recommendations are due some time this spring.
While the routing study consumed a lot of the steering committee's time in 2011, we still had time for a number of other special events and initiatives, which included:
- Participating in a variety of June 4th National Trails Day events in various communities
- Representing the NRVT at a variety of summertime community festivals
- Leading trail walks in Norwalk, Wilton and Danbury. (Stay tuned for our upcoming walk in Redding/Ridgefield). Our recent walk in Tarrywile Park, Danbury, was attended by 38 people and two horses.
- Celebrating the dedication of an information kiosk on the Norwalk section of the NRVT route in collaboration with the Norwalk River Watershed Association and REI
- Participating in September's 350.org "Moving Planet" initiative by dedicating a Wilton section of the NRVT route, unveiling trail signage and leading a trail walk
- Partnering with Patagonia in their "Bike to Work Week" for their employees - Patagonia donated all of the money raised by their employees to the NRVT
- Implementing a major outreach initiative, including growing our newsletter mailing list from 30 to over 800 people and our Facebook friends to over 250. (Please encourage your friends to join our mailing list and, if you have not yet liked us on Facebook, now is as good a time as any.)
- Participating in a conference to discuss the formation of the Western New England Greenway, which, if realized, will extend from Norwalk to Canada, with the NRVT forming the southernmost section.
- Reaching out to Merritt Parkway Trail organizers. The MPT, which will connect with the NRVT in Norwalk, is embarking on a feasibility study under the leadership of the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
- Presenting to five area civic groups
- Being awarded, for the second time, technical support from National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program.
Finally, in December the NRVT participated in a public hearing in Norwalk regarding parking along Seaview Avenue. Pat Sesto, chairman of the NRVT, presented the group's position on maintaining bike and pedestrian-friendly opportunities, especially where these opportunities are consistent with the NRVT's proposed route and mission. We look forward to making presentations of this kind in all of the towns in the Norwalk River Valley corridor as our project proceeds.